Cyclical power of focus and distraction

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I want to investigate, at least from its face value, success. No, this is not about steps on how to be successful because there are really no steps. Success is not linear and the thought that success is linear is something I want to change. As humans, with conscious and subconscious mind, with wants and suppressed wants living in an age full of things to do, success will be impossible to achieve in a linear fashion. Seeing success from a linear perspective makes failure frustrating.

Many people attribute success to will power. Gandhi notes, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” I agree, but it is not easy to find where that strength comes from.

What drives people to succeed? A little investigation points me that strength comes from motivation. At some point people will be motivated by something, it may be money, fear, love, and passion. It does not matter what motivates people because people are different have different sources of motivation. The point is, one is motivated at one point and that is a source of strength. Is motivation that brings about strength to fuel the will enough?

What is will? The dictionary defines will as the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. In other words, it is the ability to decide and bring action. Yes, but again, I think will is not enough. One may get started, even start achieving but then get distracted and stop. For Simone Weil, a 20th century philosopher thinks that “will only controls a few movements of a few muscles, and these movements are associated with the idea of the change of position of nearby objects.”

There are other things beside decision-making and taking action, though the 2 are important in starting, since in most cases, many people can’t even decide and start. Once one has made a decision and has started, the next key ingredient is focus and attention.

Beyond will, there is a need to look as focus and attention as the factor that will move one to its destination after moving a mile from the start. Focus and attention allows people to zero in on the goals or objectives. Yes, there will be distractions. In fact, one must be open to distractions from time to time to allow themselves rest and reset, and allow focus and attention to bring one back to their tasks. I remember reading an article on Oliver Sacks, the famous Doctor and Writer. In that article he said that it is normal as a writer to stop, then write again continuously.

Ultimately, success, beyond motivation and will, is a cycle between focus and distraction. Distraction allows a breather and focus to bring in fresh ideas for creativity.


A Big lesson from the Little Prince

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We have all been consumed by the thought that we are adults and that adults are expected to act in a certain way, so we act that way. We are so protective of our image that we are no longer authentic to inner self. We have added a layer to the person we really are and that is giving us a hard time to get in touch with our real selves. We play our role too seriously and that takes away the fun.

How we act is a matter of choice. Let’s remember the child in us and relearn how it is to have fun.

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” – Little Prince Book

The first step to success

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A lot of people dream of success such as financial gain, power or fame. Wanting is normal and even necessary in the process towards success. But there is a key ingredient in the process and that is clarity of vision: do you know what you want?

The first thing people need to ask themselves is what do I want? This is the destination. This is important because you have to know if you are there or not. I want to be rich is not clear, it is vague. I want one billion dollars is clearer than I want to be rich.

Another key question is, what does success look like? You have to know your visual markers such as a car, house, or happy family to know that you are there or on the way there. To push it further you can name your car’s brand, subdivision or what a happy family looks like.

I remember back in college that we were asked to write down and draw our life’s goals. I still have the document somewhere in our stockroom. The last time I saw it was more than 10 years ago but so far I already have most of it.

Be clear on what you want. It will help you in attaining your goals. This is at least the first step, not the only step.

Wisdom in Magic

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Magic is considered by many as a childish hobby, but I feel lucky to have chosen magic as a stress relief hobby. You know why?

Not because I can fool people or astonish them but for the books written by magicians who are teachers and philosophers such as Eugene Burger. His persona is an acquired taste. He is on the other side of those you see on stage. His magic is deep, reflective, and most of the time, dark, but the power of his magic comes from psychology and the way he connects with the audience.

I have read his articles, interviews and conversations and here are my takeaways.


“In my twenties, I was deeply influenced by the traditional Buddhist teaching that right thinking must precede right action. In other words, if our thinking is confused, how can we expect those actions which spring from that thinking to be clear and focused? To me, this has always seemed a most profound question. And the answer Buddhists gave was that we can’t expect clarity of action to follow from confusion in thought.If our thinking is confused, our actions must be confused as well. In magic, for example, if my goal is to produce real impact upon an audience, shall I then read the explanation of a magic effect in a book and immediately attempt to perform it without prior practice, rehearsal and thought? If I do, the result will almost always be a disaster. To produce impact on an audience with a magic effect always requires prior thinking. And the better and more cunning our thinking, the greater the impact our magic will have.”


“Absolutely! Don’t listen to too many people. I listen to three people in my magical world when it comes to putting a magic presentation together. I listen to Max Maven and Jeff McBride. I’m very willing to take direction from them. That’s another thing. You have to be willing to be open to take direction from people.”


“Put that way, sure it is foreign! Heidegger, for example, said humans are existentially thrown into existence. Thrown-ness is one of the basic descriptions of the human situation. We’re thrown into life and we find ourselves in this world — and that very fact produces anxiety.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it, but for me a more interesting way is to say that we grew here. We’re all part of what’s growing here. The trees the grass and you! That’s a little friendlier and not quite as combative as being thrown into existence with all this anxiety. When it gets right down to it, how much can you really accomplish in magic by an act of will. You can accomplish certain things, very important things. For instance, it’s an act of will that will put you on a rehearsal schedule.

So I think, structurally, acts of will are very important. Either I’m going to do it or I’m not. But when we move away from structure and talk about content, I don’t know. I just don’t find that I can grit my teeth and tense my muscles and come up with a good magic presentation.”

4. ON WORK. (my personal favorite)

“Romany: Eugene, you’ve been performing magic full-time for 25 years now…

Eugene: 25 years plus.

What is the most important lesson that you’ve learnt in that time?

(Smiles) To make the magic that I do appear important to the people who see it.”

There are more profound essays to be found on his books and internet. Not only magicians can benefit from this but those who are looking to improve their craft and life.

Where is Humanity in this Pandemic?

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When I watch the news, I can’t seem to find any good news related to this pandemic. The numbers are steadily going up and there are less medical professionals who want to get employed in health care industry and the healthcare system is starting to get overwhelmed again. We were dealt a bad hand.

I can’t seem to find humanity in this pandemic or have I been blinded by the suffering of those who are dying, those stranded LSIs or the incompetence of leaders? Are there any news the can at least give us a glimpse of hope, an Ace of Diamond?

No matter where I look, I do not see humanity in F*ck You, I don’t see humanity in ad hominem, I don’t see humanity in getting imprisoned by the contract, I do not see humanity in double standards, I don’t see humanity in manipulation.

Let me make a guess on where humanity is.

I guess they are at home, in the togetherness of the family. I guess they in the struggles of those who are suffering to make a living for their family. Humanity is in the silence of those who are praying for others. Humanity is in those who are mindful of others. Humanity is finding the truth in the message. Humanity is in big businesses helping consumers with their bills. Humanity is in the spirit of policies that try to alleviate people’s problems. Humanity is in the action, voice and words who fight for truth and injustice. Humanity is in the tears of those who feel hopeless for themselves.

Humanity is our last card, the Ace of Diamond. If we don’t play it well, we will lose this game.